10 Best Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitutes

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Thai cuisine as well as the Asian cuisine in general has many special meals and ingredients to offer to the rest of the world. One of those things is the kaffir lime leaves.

It is a staple in Thai cuisine that provides a nice strong aroma is the kaffir lime leaves. This is an ingredient that is used in cooking only. And it is not recommended to eat it raw.

The leaves are collected from the kaffir lime plant. These leaves have a very strong citrus flavor and it is something that can be used in Indian curries, many Thai and Asian dishes.

Actually, it may be difficult to find kaffir lime leaves outside Asia since it is an exotic citrus native there. Also, some people may not enjoy the strong flavors so this may indicate that you need to find a good replacement. 

All you have to do is just go through the list and pick the best option for your recipe. 

Substitutes for Kaffir Lime Leaves

You may find it hard to replace kaffir lime leaves since it has a very distinctive taste and smell. And it is very unique. However, that won’t stop you to find the best replacements and imitate the taste and smell and get almost the same results.

1. Dry for fresh kaffir lime leaves

Since there are a few options coming from the kaffir lime leaves, meaning if you don’t have fresh leaves you can always use dry and vice versa. The dried ones are stocked in plastic bags and can last for months.

Actually, you can also find frozen kaffir lime leaves. So you have the option to choose and pick depending on how much you need and how you want to store them. All 3 variants can be good for every recipe.

2. Bay leaves

Bay leaf

One of the best substitutes for kaffir lime leaves is bay leaves. They are similar and bay leaves can fit perfectly well in all savory dishes. Actually, when using bay leaves do not expect that you’ll have the same citrus taste.

The taste may be different. However, no need to worry, you’ll have the perfect dish with the best aroma and taste. You can use bay leaves to season soups, stews, rice dishes, and sauces. 

3. Lime or lemon zest

Lemon zest

A very similar citrusy flavor that comes very close to kaffir lime leaves is the zest of the limes or lemons. They have the pungency that is required for most recipes.

You can easily find lime or lemon and use the zest to replace the kaffir lime leaves. This will you will add more intensity to your dish. Use zest for every two lime leaves required. You can sprinkle it over any Asian-made chicken or any other recipe.

4. Lemon thyme

Another herb that will fit perfectly instead of kaffir lime leaves is lemon thyme. It has a crusty flavor with a strong lemon scent. Even though the lemon thyme and the kaffir leaves may not be very similar in taste, the swap will be good.

The lemon thyme is not as bitter as the normal thyme so you can add even more than it is required based on your taste. Substitute in almost every recipe that requires kaffir lime leaves like soups, stews, and other savory dishes. 

5. Lime juice

Lemon juice

You can also use lime juice as a way to replace kaffir lime leaves. This swap is perfect if you are making Thai curry paste. This way you will add the lime traces and acidity to your dish.

6. Lemongrass


A native spice to South Asia and that region is the lemongrass which can serve as a great replacement for kaffir lime leaves. This is a herb with many uses even in medicine.

However, it is also used in cooking. It has a similar taste to lemon but it has a distinctive taste on its own. Lemongrass has a crusty lemony flavor and it’s almost like lemon mint.

Since the aroma and taste are light it won’t make any difference if you add more than required. Use in most recipes that call for kaffir lime leaves. 

7. Curry leaves

Curry powder

Curry leaves are another way to replace kaffir lime leaves. These leaves come from the sweet neem tree. What makes it similar and a good replacement for kaffir lime leaves is the taste.

They are different from the lime leaves in the way that they can not be eaten. When you finish the cooking process make sure to remove the curry leaves before serving.

Even though the curry leaves do not provide the same pungent citrus taste, they are quite unique and will add a nice touch to your meal. You can also add to Indian rice dishes or some Indian curries. 

8. Persian limes

Persian limes

Kaffir lime leaves have another replacement and that is the Perisian limes. These limes are also known as Tahiti limes and are another suitable substitute in most recipes. These Persian limes are usually without seeds so you don’t need to worry about this before using them.

Once you add the Persian limes you’ll provide a delicate touch and make your meal even tastier. Slice the lime and add it to soups, stews, or any other recipe.

9. Other citrus leaves

There are other citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, or limes and their leaves can be very effective. Meaning they can also replace the kaffir lime leaves in most recipes.

Even though the smell may not be as strong, you’ll have a way to bring the flavor closer as if you have used kaffir lime leaves. You can use 1 ½ of the citrus leaves to replace kaffir leaves. You can always add more depending on your taste.

10. Thai basil


A native herb to Southeast Asia and commonly used in cooking is the Thai basil. This is our last pick on our list as a way to replace kaffir lime leaves in your cooking.

It’s a very delicate herb that can fit nicely in your cooking. You can use it in curries, noodles, or some summer rolls. You can swap them in almost any recipe that asks for kaffir lime leaves. The small narrow leaves will be perfect for soups, sauces, or any other rice dishes.

Related Questions

Can I use lime juice instead of lime leaves?

Yes, mime juice is another way to replace lime leaves. This swap works best in Thai curries. Also, you can add it to some other savory dishes in which the lime juice will provide a nice touch and the right flavor you are looking for. 

Can you use normal lime leaves in cooking?

Sure you can. You can use the new leaves and you will have a flavor very similar to makrut lime leaves.

Can you cook with lemon leaves?

Yes. They just can not be eaten raw. And since they are very aromatic your dish will have a nice sense as well as a nice taste. You can use the leaves to wrap some seafood. Or meat. Also, you can roast the lemon leaves or grill them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like